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Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Dogs – Foods & Making a Long Term Plan

Just like us, dogs can get irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a chronic digestive system disorders that can cause discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, mucus in stool and other GI issues.

Although the cause is not known for sure, it is an inflammatory condition. Therefore, it is important to reduce inflammation, eliminate unhealthy foods and add healing ones.  Fog caregivers can use good food to help fix the problem long term.

Sensitive intestinal tract compromised in irritable bowel syndrome

The intestines are lined with muscle that normally work and contract without discomfort. However, those with IBS may have muscles that contract more intensely or for longer times, resulting in discomfort.

Another reason is connected with the gastrointestinal (GI) nervous system. If the GI system and the brain are not communicating properly, it can cause the GI system to overreact.

Poor quality food, stress contribute to IBS

Other, perhaps more tangible reasons include food sensitivities, poor quality food, stress, anxiety or illness.

Do you know any dogs who are experiencing any of these issues or symptoms? Gradually experimenting with better diet can make a profound difference in the long term.   Begin with a bland diet of ground turkey and sweet potatoes, both cooked and mashed. From there, we branch out slowly but surely, adding one new food at a time – perhaps one per week, in small amounts. Please contact me if your dog is experiencing tummy troubles as a result of a bothersome food. We will work together to create a customized meal plan for your dog.

Other suggestions based on my readings geared to humans include stress reduction. This can include daily walks, lots of love, and a safe environment. Probiotics are another recommendation, as they help balance intestinal flora. And high quality omega-3s reduce inflammation.

Love, exercise and good food can help keep your pal healthy!

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Why Give Dogs Coconut Oil

Dear friends of dogs,

Inner and outer beauty… coconut oil does it!

On the outside, it feels velvety soft and can be applied to skin, rough paws, and can enhance skin’s health in general.

On the inside, it offers a wide range of benefits too. The fat in coconut oil (medium chain triglycerides, or MCT) is absorbed quickly and efficiently, making it quite usable by the body in general.

Coconut oil can aid in cognitive function, inflammatory conditions, viral and bacterial issues and much more.

Unrefined coconut oil is a staple in my dog’s diet, and I include it in many of my recipes and ingredient suggestions.

You can offer this gem straight out of the jar, or you can cook with it. Most dogs I give it to seem to like the taste.

I hope you and your dog enjoy this healthy addition. And remember, joining gives you full access to all members-only content, including recipes, articles and much more.

Best wishes,

Sarah Whitman, MS

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Making Eggs? You Can Make a Calcium Supplement

Dear friends of dogs,

You know what they say about eggs … incredible, edible and lots more! They take very little time to prepare, can be used alone or in recipes, and provide a highly digestible protein for your dog.

If that didn’t offer enough reasons to include them in your dog’s diet, here’s another reason: You can use eggshell as a calcium supplement.

See below for more details on using eggs and eggshell as a natural, nutritious calcium supplement. You can see more in-depth members-only content about eggs and tons more ingredients.


Sarah Whitman, MS

Incredible Egg!

What’s so great about ’em?

Eggs contain a wide range of nutrients and highly digestible protein. Eggshells contain calcium and other minerals and compounds that can promote bone health and more. Power food!

How can I make eggs?

Scrambled, fried, mixed into your usual recipes… you name it. They are versatile little buggers.

How can I make eggshells?

Eggshells are sharp, so they should be finely ground or well crushed. You can grind or crush them raw and then cook into your recipes, OR you can cook them on their own and then grind them into a powder.

How much should I use as a supplement?

The answer varies depending on what else your dog is eating. But the holistic vets I’ve talked with recommend approximately 1/2 teaspoon of ground eggshell per pound of meat, if you are making a homemade diet.

Is there anything to worry about?

Just a quick note aside from the need to make sure the shells are well crushed:

  • Some dogs are sensitive to eggs or just egg whites. Just start slow and see how your furbaby does. I recommend this with all dietary changes.
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Arthritis in Dogs – Foods to Consider

Arthritis is common in dogs, just like it is in us humans. So what can we do for our furry friends who are feeling achy, inflamed and sore from arthritis? There are some dietary and lifestyle adjustments we humans can use — look into them for your dogs too!

What is arthritis?

Depending on its form, arthritis can cause swelling, pain, joint damage, reduced activity and lessened quality of life. Often it happens simply as a by-product of age, or can be a result of previous injury, overuse or underlying viral or bacterial causes

Often, anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed and likely provide some relief, but also can come with their own potential problems.

What’s a good diet for a dog with arthritis?

An antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet is crucial. As a holistic minded vet I know once said, “all commercial pet food is inflammatory.” This is true for many reasons, including heavy processing, nutrient depletion, poor quality and many other potential factors.

Transitioning to a clean, human-grade, homemade diet can work wonders for the body in numerous ways including reducing inflammation.

Recipes for dogs with arthritis

Pet parents can do this easily, using any of numerous healthy recipes found on my website.

You can help your dog by cutting out processed foods and poor quality items and replacing them with fresh ingredients that help curb inflammation. A clean, high quality diet in general will help with this, but specific foods that are known to reduce inflammation include many vegetables and fruits, healthy oils (real olive oil, unrefined coconut oil) wild fish, sardines and other high quality meats your dog’s body needs.

Other natural approaches to arthritis

For a more comprehensive summary of natural approaches to arthritis in dogs, you can order my e-booklet, Natural Approaches to Arthritis in Dogs.

Glucosamine with chondroitin is also a popular, likely beneficial supplement. Many other supplements have been reviewed, and I am working on a report about this. Contact me for more information.

Improving your dog’s diet, taking him for regular walks and providing him with a low-stress, love-filled environment can go a long way.

Outside of diet, there are other natural approaches that can really help. These include acupuncture, homeopathy, massage and more.

Exercise is beneficial in arthritis management, and can help keep weight in check – another beneficial aspect. Start slowly and gently, as your dog may be sore.

Feel free to contact me if you need help finding a holistic vet.

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Tiny Toxin in Most Dog Foods?

Recently, I attended a workshop on healthy pet foods. The seminar was conducted at a veterinary clinic and the speakers focused on many issues, including the process of making pet food. This process includes removing many nutrients, and then adding them back, in artificial versions.

One of the nutrients, after removed, is replaced with a version that is considered carcinogenic (cancer causing). What’s even more frustrating is that the original version of this nutrient actually has ANTI-cancer properties.

This nutrient is a mineral called selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant rich substance found in many foods including sardines, grass fed beef, turkey, beef liver, chicken and elsewhere. It is also naturally found in soil and therefore many vegetables, however our soil does not have the selenium content it used to have.

Unfortunately, during pet food processing, a version of selenium, called sodium selenite, is used. According to the experts at my workshop, this version is actually carcinogenic. So we take out the natural, cancer-fighting version, and replace it with an artificial, cancer-causing version.

Sure enough, I looked on numerous labels of seemingly wonderful dog food and what did I find? Sodium selenite. To me, this is just one more reason to feed human-grade, homemade meals to my dog. And as for the supplements I use (and I do recommend rounding out a homemade diet with supplements) I researched and found a few without sodium selenite.

If you’re looking for natural sources of selenium, try some of the foods listed above, and try some recipes with  sardines, grass fed beef, turkey, beef liver or chicken.




General Multivitamin and Mineral Tablet

Do you ever wonder if you should give your dog a multivitamin / mineral supplement? There has been so much discussion on this topic, for both pets and us humans. My own personal philosophy is this:

Our food supply is not what it used to be. Modern practices, processing, soil depletion and more can drain food of its original nutrients. This applies to dog food too, whether it’s commercial or homemade.

As hard as we try, we may not eat 100% of everything we need every day. Again, this may apply to dogs too.

I believe supplements can be a tremendous asset to help bolster our health and our dogs’ health. Further, one of the most common questions I get from people thinking about homemade is: Will a homemade diet offer all the necessary nutrients? I believe it CAN! However I also include some supplements in order to help boost my dog’s nutritional levels, for all the above reasons.  And my dog’s diet is stellar! Fresh meats, vegetables, oils, and more.


One of the products I use a couple times a week is called NuVet Plus. I got it from my wonderful holistic vet. It’s not cheap, but I don’t give the full dose because I know my dog’s diet is great, and I also use other products, like Nupro which I also discuss here on Dog Food Coach. See the Nupro article.

NuVet is a chewable multivitamin mineral tablet with a couple additional goodies like algae and oyster shell.

Hope this info is useful to you and your dog. I am not affiliated with the company. Contact me if you have questions.


Bone and Bone Meal for Dogs

We always hear about how a dog’s natural diet includes bones. Yep, they are good predators and the coyotes that live near me, for example, have no problem chowing down whole small animals like rabbits and squirrels, leaving nothing but a few tufts of fur behind. Other natural predators, same story. And that’s the natural way.

And our sweet domestic dogs? I know many who absolutely thrive on a raw diet. One of my local colleagues has several dogs, ALL of whom eat raw and are doing absolutely fantastic! They get raw turkey necks, wings or legs, and many other raw items. They don’t get food poisoning, and their teeth look great.

However, I know the raw diet is controversial and not everyone is ready to take the plunge. Despite our own mentalities, we need to make sure our dogs are getting what they need nutritionally, and this includes bone. However, it has to be done properly.

bone meal

Commercially, there is one really nice item I give my dog all the time now. Stella and Chewy’s meal mixers are whole, balanced meals but can also be given as an addition to a dog’s regular meals. They come in different shapes and sizes, but I buy the little nuggets which I dole out as high value treats. The beef flavor I get has grass fed beef meat, organs and bone, along with a little sprinkling of fruits, vegetables and probiotics. I feel happy giving these out to my dog as I know they are highly nutritious and contain bone.

bone meal

Another option I use is bone meal (seen above). This can be found in many heath food stores, but it is important to make sure it’s the edible kind, not the kind used for gardens. And it should be high quality, and tested for heavy metals. The kind I use is beef based and highly concentrated … a little goes a long way. My holistic vet said to be careful with it though, as too much can cause kidney stones. I asked if about 100 mg a day is okay (for my 60 pound dog – dosage should depend on weight), and he said yes.

The nuggets and bone meal are just two supplemental items I use in my quest to provide a wide variety of awesome, healthy (and bone-containing) foods for my dog.

Anther great way to use bones is in bone broth. Delicious and nutritious! Here is one of my recipes using bone broth – actually this chicken crockpot stew recipe cooks a whole chicken for about 24 hours, long enough to make the bones soft and mushy … soft enough to eat.

Recipes Supplements

Homemade Dog Food Recipe – Pork, Peas and Omega-3s

This recipe contains frozen peas, lean cut of pork, and a high quality omega-3 fish oil pill, which you can see in the upper left side of the dish.

Combine 1 part frozen peas to 1 part lean pork (could be ground pork, pork chop meat etc.). Mash peas so dog does not swallow them whole. Add fish oil pill. Depending on your dog’s size, you may want to break open the fish oil pill and add a few drops at a time.

Why fish oil?

Fish oil and its omega-3 fatty acids are well researched for their role in reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation contributes to a range of health conditions. Including omega-3s in your dog’s diet can help reduce inflammation while contributing important nutrients. Dosage depends on your dog’s weight and specific health needs, but therapeutic human doses often average several thousand milligrams daily.

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Using Phytochemicals to Protect Your Dog’s Health

Phytochemicals are chemicals in plants (‘phyto’ = plant) that don’t contain nutrients, but do contain qualities that can prevent or protect against disease.

Some research suggests phytochemicals in plants have the ability to protect us against disease because the plants protect themselves against disease by producing these compounds.

Phytochemicals work in several ways. They act as antioxidants, protecting our bodies against free radicals and oxidative stress. They can help optimize enzyme function, protect DNA and cell wall integrity, and more.

Some phytochemical-rich foods are not dog-friendly, like onions and grapes. But many others are. These include the following.

  • Carotenoids in fruits and orange vegetables
  • A wide range of vegetables
  • Some beans and legumes
  • Cranberry extract

To increase your dog’s phytochemical consumption, consider adding fresh vegetables to his or her diet.


Cod Liver Oil for Dogs – Vitamin D, Omega-3 and More

The more I thought about it, the more I thought, hmm, if vitamin D deficiency is so common in humans — especially northerners who don’t get adequate sunlight, and those who wear sunscreen — then what about in dogs?

Vitamin D is also rare in foods. Only a handful of foods contain it. Some varieties of seafood are included in that handful.

Salmon is one relatively rich source. But a more efficient vehicle? Cod liver oil. The same stuff our mothers, grandmothers or great-grandmothers made kids take (choke down?) back in the day is still available now. Many human varieties are flavored with lemon, orange or other palatable tastes to make it tolerable. But regular, unflavored cod liver oil is available as well, and is a better choice for dogs than the flavored stuff.

The brand I used to research this article has vitamin D, E and A — all important fat-soluble vitamins — along with omega-3s. The human serving size of this particular brand is one teaspoon per day.  So a little goes a long way, and most dogs will need less.

One thing to watch for with fat-soluble vitamins is that they can build up in the body and become toxic. Too much vitamin A, for example, can harm the liver. But if your dog is low in vitamin D, like so many of us humans are, then it is useful to build up the body’s reserves. After all, the more research that’s done on vitamin D, the more it is being linked with health, and its deficiency linked with disease.

So check your dog’s current diet to make sure he is getting enough vitamin D. If not, consider using small amounts of cod liver oil, for not just vitamin D but other nutrients and beneficial omega-3s.